September 2013: Our new report looks at the first decisions made by the Local Transport Bodies (LTBs), who are taking charge of local transport funding from 2015.
For the first £900 million of funds they will distribute, each LTB had to submit a list of their priority transport projects to the Department for Transport by August 2013. We have now obtained these lists and - with the Campaign to Protect Rural England - analysed the projects chosen for funding. The results are very worrying.
What we found
The LTBs have put forward £1.3 billion of spending plans. Of the 210 priority projects, 123 (59%) are road building and widening projects and these make up a large majority of planned spending.
Other modes of transport are receiving much less – just over a quarter (26%) of projects are for public transport and sustainable travel. Bus projects make up only 7% of the total, compared with 22% of projects in the final group of directly Government-funded schemes approved in late 2011 (the 'Development Pool').
Although 6 projects aimed at cycling appeared in longlists produced by the LTBs, none made it into their final priorities.
We also looked at schemes that were providing transport for new housing and business developments. Of 65 projects - identified from the descriptions in LTB documents - 55 were for new road capacity and just 10 were for public transport or active travel.
Also disappointing was a very low level of public involvement in drawing up the lists of schemes. The best LTBs made a wide call for new ideas, but others simply revived old road schemes behind closed doors.
Out of 38 Local Transport Bodies assessed:
What should be done
Local transport devolution needs looking at again. Between now and July 2014, the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will absorb the LTBs and bid for money from a £2 billion Local Growth Fund by putting together local 'Growth Deals'.
This process is being controlled by the Department for Business Innnovation and Skills (BIS) and there's a real danger that funds going into the Local Growth Fund (including £100 million from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund) will end up supporting another set of roads and car-dependent developments.
Best and worst LTBs
The top three LTBs in our ranking were:
These LTBs all focused their choices on public transport and public realm schemes, and also had a number of these types of projects in reserve.
The bottom three LTBs were:
These LTBs focused their choices on road schemes, with Tees Valley’s road projects all aimed at large development sites. Oxfordshire’s mixed schemes, however, also included public transport measures for a large new housing area.
The full league table and scores for each LTB can be found in our report.
For the LTBs that did badly in our rankings, we recommend: